03. jul. 2013 Posted by Eriks



It is a great honour to speak in Cannes on the subject of “Underdog”. More precisely: “How is it to be an underdog yet still survive”.


The topic rises certain questions. If “Underdog” is (accordingly to Google Online dictionary) “A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest”, what is an “Overdog”, then? And does “Underdogs” have something “Overdogs” can learn from? 




I don’t even know why I prepared so many slides. This one pretty much sums it all up.




In my world, being an Underdog is very close to what being a child means. Your potential is not yet released. Your competition sleeps. Your enemies are not aware of your talents yet and you don’t have an obligation to meet anyones’ expectations. Do you know how this state is called? It’s called “Freedom”.


Athletes and musicians know better. It is comparingly easy to win one gold. Or to release one great album. Or to write one brilliant book. Then expectations kick in and from this point on things get complicated.


Before first success you could screw things up, and no one blames you. And, what is more important – the way you screw things up sometimes appears to be a new and better way of doing those very things. 


Underdogs can also can ask stupid questions.


For instance. 


As underest of dogs, I do ask the question to Cannes Lions and the industry: how come, this thing has turned from competition of ads into competition of films about ads? What Olympic Games would look like if it would be the case? 


Case study film about Ussein Bolt? 


Problem: we sucked at 100 meters distance

Solution: we decided to find Ussein Bolt

Results: we won Olympics, zero media budget spent, 2 billions in media coverage.


I am not saying its’a a worst thing that can happen, but I really miss times, when Wieden+Kennedy won Agency of year with 15 different ads, not with one film about one ad submitted in 25 categories.


As I said – underdogs ask stupid questions.


What you will see next is a weird project only a underdog agency in an underdog market of an underdog country would do. If you have watched Mulholland Drive, there are several parallel stories which end up in a common final. I tried to do a case study on this, but it was so complicated, no one was able to understand it. 


Long story short:


Latvian state had a traffic speed-cameras installing project. In  total, 160 of speed traps had to be installed to make Latvia a safest driving country, or most photographed, whatever. For some unknown (but guessed) reason project was given to a private company. So the business model behind it became quite the opposite – the faster you go the richer the company gets, so more speeding is better. Project failed and only 17 cameras were installed.


Cut, fade to black.


Meanwhile, at the same time Latvian Green Dot was about to run a campaign for asking people to utilise their old house appliances in an environmentally responsible way. In other words “not dumping your old fridge in forest”.


So, as an agency, we asked people to bring old fridges, grills, TV-sets and dishwashers to roadsides in school areas, and to spray-mark them to look like speed-traps. Because fridges look like fixed speed-traps and grills and TVs look like portable ones. Like this:







Latvian Green Dot would pick items up to utilise in 4 months period (from 1st of September till 20th of December)


Suddenly drivers started to slow down, because they didn’t know whether it is your old fridge or a speed trap. Families got rid of their garbage in a civilised way, forests got cleaner and every one who was involved had a certain amount of fun, although not in a 100% legal way. Well, not in a 10% legal way either. That’s what underdogs can do.


I cannot submit this project to Cannes. There is no client, it didn’t sell a thing and most likely it would be called a scam ad in any festival. However, it saved some lives, around 25 million Euros to Latvians state and served as a good practice to utilise electronic equipment instead of dumping it somewhere in the forest. Besides, it got rid Latvians from old grills and fridges, and made them buy new ones, which is always good for the economy.


Another short video. It’s not new, but it bears a certain amount of underdogness. We had to do a campaign for people to use more cards and less cash. So, Monday morning we came up with idea of filming real pickpockets who are currently in jail. They’re not dumb drug addicts. They are highly trained professionals, and if they chose me to be robbed, I shall be robbed. It took us like 48 hours to get approval from ministry of Internal Affairs and we were in jail, filming. I must say, female pickpockets were far more charming than men. I slightly fell in love with this gipsy lady.



But, to move towards the end.


Dear colleagues. Time of being an underdog is short. Enjoy it while you can. It is like being a talented junior creative in the agency. It is like spending time in a playground. 


Good news – advertising is an underdog profession itself. You cannot kill anyone by it. It’s not a heart-surgery, man. 


I’ve got a friend. 

His name is Neil French. 

Before he landed in advertising, he was a bouncer, a debt collector, death-metal band manager, bullfighter and producer (and even actor) of pornographic films. And every time I cuss about how difficult my life in advertising is, he says something like “you know, Eriks, I’ve got like thousand scars on my body. And not a single one of them is from advertising”.


I am not here to evangelize, and I know how sceptical and harsh advertising guys are towards any pathetic advice given from a stage. And still…  If you could keep this underdog feeling alive no matter what scale your agency is… That will help a lot. 


Thank you very much.


Ltd. “MOOZ!" has signed the 27.11.2013 contract No. L-ATA-13-1827 with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency for the realisation of the project “The participation of “MOOZ!” creative director E.Stendzenieks in the international advertising festival "Cannes Lions", which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.


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Designtaxi Says
20. may. 2013 Posted by Eriks

In Advert Posters, Clients Reimagined As Scary Monsters

By John Yong, 16 Apr 2013


It is a known fact that creatives ‘fear’ their clients—therefore, it comes with no surprise that ad agency !MOOZ would reimagine them as scary monsters in its latest advertising posters. 


Designed for the Latvian Art Directors Club Adwards 2013, the agency turned the typical clients into blood-dripping, scary monsters such as ‘Mr. Make Logo Bigger’, ‘Dr. Deadline’, ‘Sir No Budget’ and ‘Master ASAP’.

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05. mar. 2013 Posted by Eriks

For past 46 years (yes, I'm 46), I have been hearing like 3 billion of "Change or die" manifestations.  From junior intern to a sadly late Steve Jobs.  I don't think that's true. Maybe I'm dead, I don't know. 

Yes, there are things that change by nature. Like clouds, or running water. Or rainbow. Nothing much else. Take a human DNA. It hasn't changed during past 100 000 years or so. Thank God it hasn't. Want changes? Nature did it for you. It's called Down syndrome. And here the list goes: mother's instinct, self-realization, wish to love and to be loved, instinct of self-protection, complex of inferiority, megalomania... What this all has to do with change? Nill. 

Or take a good old French cheese. Or good old French wine. Non-changeability is the only value behind their business model. Well, I do change my socks on daily basis. I change my wardrobe once in 3 years or so. Occasionally I change my hair-dresser and/or dentist (how badly a dentist must screw you up to make you change him?).  Well, if not Change what then? The word is "Persistency". With capital "P".  Memorize this word. So, when media says "Change Or Die" it really says like "Change your iPhone or die". Nope. Not going to. Yes, I do change my socks. I change tools, IT skills and abilities to navigate in latest "social platform". It's like changing dress. But nothing more. I don't change of what I am.. I still have my body, reputation and occupation. Can I replace the word "change" with "Growth"? Or maybe "Maturing"? When I speak to my father (86, paralyzed from neck down), I always think of change, and what it is, and is it essential to what you do? And he says "You've got a lot. Appreciate, son!".

Do I believe in change? No.

Do I believe in growth? Yes.

Big salute.


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Off Strategy
08. feb. 2013 Posted by Eriks

I do challenge the "strategy" approach to advertising. I think strategy has become a false idol which was at very heart of every bad advertising since 1990. Strategy was a great thing when it was a lighthouse.  It isn't anymore when it became a God to woship. As of nowdays "strategy" mostly means predictable > same > boring > invisible. Isn't advertising ment to surprise? Isn't it ment to cause this WOW I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN factor? If everything is on strategy, nothing is on strategy. Where's the miracle, dude? Nature doesn't have a strategy. Love doesn't. I'd wish to see 100 bright off-strategy ideas rather than 100 on-strategy mediocricities. Can "Surprise me!" become a strategy once again? Thank you very much, strategist haters welcome.

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Price for being safe
16. jan. 2013 Posted by Eriks

This fine Faberge-craft-like creature is radiolaria. Its size is up to 0,22 mm. It is the most cautious creature in the world. It has not changad during past 160 millions of yeaars. That is the price it has paid for being safe.


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Neil French. Riga.
Might be as well Mr. Voland.
21. sep. 2012 Posted by Eriks

Neil French has arrived, has spoken his word, has departed. And apart from losing his luggage, has left more in Latvia than he probably realizes. Not maybe left. Shared. Made an imprint. We at !MOOZ, are extremely happy to be involved in his visit. Certain things allow themselves to be passed further only as life grows rich with Knowledge. I'm writing the word Knowledge with a capital "K", which I generally avoid. This is kind of Knowledge you cannot download on Google. These are years, people, ups and downs that add richness and depth to what is to be said. How and why to speak as a human being (and how and why not as advertising page)? How you interact with audience? How to subtract? How not to fall in the trap of dividing advertising into "ethical" (selling wooden bicycles) and "evil" (selling beer)? Because ... Wait... Being in advertising and moralizing??? Think it througt guys and maybe you'll find out how much hypocricity is in the concept.

"As a bullfighter, bouncer and street-fighter I have around thousand scars on my body. Not a single one comes from advertising. It's just advertising. Kammon! It doesn't kill anybody. If you fuck it up – you fuck it up. Next time do it right. But if you'll fall in that mode "OMG, the world fell apart, I'll never get it right", you'll never get it right. Because of fear. And viewer is the first to smell it." Offtoppic: Neil also has a huge bondage gadgets collection, so we went to Sexystyle for a long-group-excursion. Hilarious! Thanks to @Bufetniece. No pictures, though. After Neil left I still cannot get rid of the feeling we experienced a short visit of Mr. Voland. That guy from Bulgakow's "Master and Margarita". He was just using one of his many identities. And Annushka has already spilled the oil.

Picture thanks to Uldis Ziedins @uldisz

Link with Neil's speech – Coming Shoon, will keep you updated.


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Hyper Island
22. aug. 2012 Posted by Sabīne

It was the most intense learning experience ever - 3 full days all about how Internet and technologies have changed our perceptions and the way we communicate. I came back very excited and here are some main findings I want to share. Can be related to people, products, brands, companies.

When you are given answer, you don’t have to think any more.

It will never go back the way it was before. You can be either the one affecting it, or the one affected.

Ostrich's head in the sand is not a problem. The problem is that his ass is out.

Click here to read more

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1995. The first week
02. aug. 2012 Posted by Eriks

While flipping through my dad's album (the heavy, mysterously smelling thing you must hold with your hands, chest and chin for not letting it fall apart) I sudenly came across this. The first months of "advertising agency ZOOM!", later known as !MOOZ. The year was 1995. Square meters: 9. Equippment: 2 Mac Quadras. Raivo holds a fresh-produced cut-out 3M sticker for (as far as I remember) a theatre festival. Me taking care of new business. Yes, it was totally acceptable then to wear your shirt stuffed in your trousers. Apparently, we had higher moral statndards. Raivo successfully runs Magnum NT now. We have grown in size since then. I just bought a pair of jeans and I think it was 40 L.

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